Saturday, February 12, 2011

Themes in Job

Clark McNutt and I are slated to teach a class on the book of Job starting in March. Rather than trying to teach the passages in an expository way, we are going to attempt to identify some major themes or topics that run through the story and see what they have to tell us. Having spent the last six years studying a variety of books about Job while working on the opera Suzanne and I have written (with much help from many friends), I think I can bring in some different points of view and differing ideas from those that we are usually presented with (at least those we get in our Presbyterian (PCA) Sunday School classes).

Here are a few I came up with... in no particular order and subject to change without notice... your mileage may vary... do not attempt this at home...
  1. Wisdom Literature - overview of the wisdom books in the bible... Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. How are they interrelated and how are they different?
  2. Background on Job - when do we think it was written and why? what was its context? why is it in the bible? what does it have for us today?
  3. Who is God? What is he? How do the names by which we call him dictate our thoughts about him?
  4. God and the Satan - just what is their relationship anyway? Is "the satan" in Job the same character we are introduced to as the "serpent" in Genesis and Lucifer later on?
  5. Job's Wife - Old "What's-her-name" - Generally vilified for her brief appearance and suggestion that Job should "curse God and die", Job's wife has a lot to teach us about handling grief if we'll look long enough to understand her.
  6. Job's Friends - Friends in Need, or Needy Friends? The dialogue between Job and his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, take up the vast majority of the book. Their theological debates are far-ranging and lengthy. Let's take a look at Job and his friends and see what was going on. Is being called a "Friend of Job" a good thing or a bad thing?
  7. Justice and Man's Role vs. Justice and God's Role - Is God too busy to deal with issues of justice on earth? Can we continue to believe in a good and all powerful God in the face of the immense suffering we see? How do we reconcile it? Or do we?
  8. God and Creation and Man in Creation - God's response to Job from the whirlwind is a whirlwind tour of creation. What's he trying to say anyway?
  9. From Riches to Rags to Riches - The story's beginning and ending are prose compared to the poetry that makes up the rest of the book. What's up with that? Is the ending a copout? 
  10. These were added by Clark... 
    • Health and Wealth- things we see and feel but not are.
    • God's view of man vs. Man's view of man
    • Why does God allow Satan to interfere?
    • Integrity as a character trait
That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I am going through my notebooks to see if I can pull together some information that is usable for the class. I'm looking forward to it, but a little scared too. Hoping it will go well.

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